Native Legumes for Reclamation in Alberta

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  • Wild Rose Consulting, Inc. (Edmonton) and the Vegetation Branch of AEC (Vegreville) began a four year project in spring of 1990 to collect, multiply, evaluate, and select native legume species for inclusion in a native seed mixture being developed at AEC for reclamation in the mountains and foothills. In 1990 and 1991 seeds of the following species were collected from the mountains and foothills of Alberta: Astragalus alpinus, A. americanus, A. vexillijlexus, Hedysarum alpinum, H. boreale, H. sulphurescens, Lupinus nootkatensis, L. sericeus, Oxytropis cusickii, O. dejlexa, O. monticola, o. sericea, O. splendens, and O. viscida. Germination was tested and seedlings were produced in the greenhouse and transplanted into a nursery at Vegreville. Plants were observed for three growing seasons. Data concerning survival, growth and development, and yield were analysed and combined with distribution data. Legumes were then ranked. In the second growing season, plots of potentially desirable species were seeded to increase seed production. Astragallis alpinus has the best potential for use in reclamation in the mountains and foothills of Alberta up to elevations of 2000 m. It will be useful for establishing a rapid cover on sites but should be used in mixtures containing at least one longer lived, native legume since it appears to be somewhat short-lived. Both Oxytropis monticola and O. splendens are also recommended for use in reclamation in the mountains and foothills in the near future. The former can be used up to 1800 m whereas the latter is recommended for up to 1600 m. Other species with some potential for reclamation include: Astragalus vexillijlexus, Hedysarum boreale, Oxytropis sericeus, and Oxytropis cusickii. More work is required for these before they can be released. To make the recommended species available as soon as possible, seeds will be supplied to a commercial nursery in the spring of 1994. If all goes well, seeds will be available in the fall of 1995. Each recommended species must be tested at various sites in the mountains and foothills. This will provide users with more complete information regarding where and how to use each species in reclamation and restoration projects in Alberta. Initial tests of various rhizobial bacteria strains show some potential for improving growth and development of the three selected species. Screening of available rhizobial strains is continuing.

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